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Philippine bishops challenge laity to ‘sanctify the world and transform it’

Catholic World News - December 05, 2013

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines has declared 2014 to be the year of the laity and has issued a pastoral exhortation challenging the lay faithful “to sanctify the world and transform it.”

“The first and most important truth about you Filipino Catholic laity is not poverty but the greatness of your dignity,” the bishops wrote. “When you were baptized, the Holy Spirit united you with our Lord Jesus the Son of God, and thus you became true sons and daughters of God, partakers of the divine nature. There is no greater dignity on earth or in heaven than that of being adopted children of God, and being made truly his children, and thus co-heirs to eternal life with Jesus Christ.”

“Your membership in the Church is a full membership,” the bishops continued. “You belong to the Church as much as any pope, bishop, priest, or religious does. You are not second class members of the people of God.”

“Many of you are called by the Lord to do service in the Church and for the Church,” they added. “Such is the case of lay liturgical ministers and catechists … Yet, your own specific task, and the special responsibility given to you by the Lord is to find your own sanctification in the world, and to sanctify the world and transform it so that this world becomes more and more God’s world, God’s kingdom, where his will is done as it is in heaven.”

Lamenting lack of concern for the poor, as well as the “greed for money and power” that has led to corruption, the bishops noted that “many, perhaps the majority of the corrupt people in politics and in business are graduates of our own Catholic schools and are ‘practicing’ Catholics. The majority of those who cheat in elections and those who sell their votes are also baptized Catholics.”

The bishops observed that “many of our Catholics cannot even answer attacks on basic Catholic doctrines like the divinity of Christ, the Eucharist, the veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the veneration of images” and called upon the laity to read the Bible regularly and frequent the sacraments.

“Finally, we ask you to stand up for Jesus not only in religious activities but in your private and public life,” they concluded. “Speak up for Jesus and his Church in public discussions. Do not be afraid to be identified as Catholic Christians. You have been called to be saints; you are sent forth as heroes. Take courage. Choose to be brave!”

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